Stay Sun Safe in a Sustainable Way


Guest Blog Written by Rebecca McDowell for Cassandra McClure and


Summer is upon us! This means summer fashion, warm tone makeup, and of course, the most important, using lots of sunscreen! 

It’s essential for those lake days, beach weekend getaways, and soaking up the sun to keep our skin protected from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can lead to skin cancer. Something we don’t want anyone to experience!

We’re sharing 8 sunscreen brands that are sustainable and good for your skin because not all sunscreens are made the same.

Before we get to the brands, it’s good to explain why using sustainable sunscreen is important.

Sunscreen is an essential product, in addition to wearing sun protective clothing, to protect our skin from cancer-causing UV rays. Ideally, this is already part of your daily routine and habits! If not, start today by testing out the brands below and making it part of your morning routine.

Due to the nature of the responsibility of sunscreen, toxic chemicals are used in the product. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), these harmful “chemicals are absorbed into the body and can be measured in blood, breast milk and urine samples.”

The problem with these chemicals are the reactions they can cause in people, including allergic reactions and disruption of the hormone system.

FDA raised concerns about the substantial skin absorption of oxybenzone, its potential to affect hormone levels and the increased absorption susceptibility of children (FDA 2019).

In addition, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and avobenzone are things to avoid.

Here at the Sustainable Project, we push ourselves to ask bigger questions. 

If the ingredients used in sunscreen are harmful to humans, how harmful are they to the environment?

It turns out, they’re harmful enough for parts of Mexico and all of Hawaii to ban sunscreens that fail to meet environmental safety requirements. Sunscreens have toxic chemicals in them that are harmful to coral reefs and contribute to coral bleaching. 

It may not seem like a lot when one person uses sunscreen that’s harmful to the environment, but when thousands and millions of people are using it, it’s a problem. 

According to Vogue magazine, an estimated “14,000 tons of sunscreen lotions end up in coral reefs each year.”

This is simply not okay and we can no longer turn a blind eye on this knowledge when shopping for sunscreen. 

In addition to caring about beauty and human health, we are passionate about the environment. We’re firm believers in the quote by Maya Angelou, “when you know better, do better.”

Our mission is to spread the word not only about sustainability challenges, but the solutions available and the brands working to change the status quo. Sharing this information is something we are passionate about! All of us have a role to play in the sustainability movement. 

It’s possible to shop sustainability for sunscreen which benefits both human health and environmental health.



Every choice makes a difference. 

Hawaii took action based on scientific facts and will only allow coral reef safe sunscreens to be distributed.

Take action with your daily skincare routine and try one of the following sustainable sunscreens. 

A quick note, you’ll see us mention brands that are B Corp certified. B Corp businesses undergo a certificate process proving they meet rigorous environmental and social performance standards. This is a great resource to really make an impact with making sustainable choices. 



CounterSun is our top choice a sustainable suncare brand! Voted by of beauty by Allure in 2018, they use non-nano zinc oxide and California Poppy in their ingredients. Bonus, this product is very lightweight on skin, doesn’t leave any residue, and blends in easily. Their spray sunscreen was nominated for a Refinery 29 Beauty Innovator award, too! Plus, they now make tinted sunscreens!

Zoca Lotion, a San Francisco based company, is a brand we love! We collaborated with them last year and highly recommend their non-toxic, plant based organic sunscreen that’s also ocean reef safe!

To take sustainability to the next level, try All Good’s sunscreen that comes in a metal tin to help reduce plastic pollution. What stands out about All Good are their sustainable practices in their business. They are B Corp certified, GMO-free, run their facility on solar power, and have an organic farm.


Another B Corp brand is Goddess Garden. We’ve used their spray and lotion products before and prefer the spray over the lotion. Something to note, this sunscreen doesn’t blend easily and requires extra rubbing of your skin so white residue isn’t left behind. Give yourself a few extra minutes when using this sunscreen.

Stream2Sea, founded by a cosmetic chemist and certified diver, makes biodegradable sunscreens.


Babo Botanicals, B Corp certified, offers sunscreen for sensitive skin in spray, lotion, and balm packaging. We’ve found having a balm packaged sunscreen is perfect to carry in your purse and in the car so you’re always prepared if you end up in the sun longer than expected. Their cute logo featuring a bunny makes it easy to remember, too!


TropicSport is water resistant and coral reef friendly. Made without harsh active chemical ingredients. Oxybenzone free, Octinoxate free, and Avobenzoe free.

Erbaviva is an organic skincare line for moms and babies. Their organic sunscreen is made from essential oils and zinc oxide, making it coral reef safe and perfect for face and body use. Plus, the lavender oil is a lovely touch! Erbaviva is also B Corp certified. 

All of these brands are based in the United States, too. The only thing missing from these products are harmful chemicals.

Comment below with the sunscreen you try! 


Rebecca McDowell is a digital strategist and founder of Queen Yourself,

a lifestyle brand empowering and inspiring women. She’s a contributing writer for the Sustainable Project and a Climate Leader with the Climate Reality Project. Rebecca is passionate about all things sustainability, especially as it relates to plastic pollution and the oceans. Follow Queen Yourself on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.